By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday claimed that former Deputy Commissioner of Police Marvin Dames has offered nothing new to the Bahamian public since becoming the Free National Movement’s (FNM) “in-house crime expert”.
Mr Roberts also accused Mr Dames of leaving the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) “in a huff” in 2011, instead of working with then newly appointed Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade.
In response last night, Mr Dames criticised Mr Roberts, saying the PLP chairman is concerned about politics while “blood is on the streets”. He added that the PLP has “made a mockery” of the police force since he left in 2011.
Mr Roberts was responding to initial remarks made by the FNM’s recently ratified candidate for Mount Moriah last week. During a recent guest appearance on radio talk show Darold Miller Live, the former senior policeman said the government has been unable to control violent crime in the country because it is lacking a strategic plan that involves a multifaceted approach to the problem.
In his statement, the PLP chairman said that Mr Dames has offered no new solutions to the country’s crimes woes and said this was the case because “his so-called recommendations are either already existing government policy and settled in law or are mere repetitions of initiatives” pronounced by Commissioner Greenslade.
“What have we heard? To date, we have not heard one new idea, no not one,” Mr Roberts said.
“Mr Dames’ leader, Dr Hubert Minnis, is prancing up and down in the media complaining about how the government needs to produce a crime plan and lamenting about how the government is not serious about crime. On the eve of the 2017 general election, Dr Minnis now has his ‘in house crime expert’ to deliver the plan he keeps complaining about and the best Minnis’ ‘in house crime expert’ could muster is to repeat the anti-crime policies of the PLP government and the crime plan of his former colleague who beat him out for the top job at the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
“Instead of rolling up his sleeves and working with Commissioner Greenslade as the consummate goal-oriented team player and public servant, Dames left the police force in a huff for more money in the private sector only to return to offer nothing to the national dialogue on crime. His appointment by Dr Minnis is at best dubious and questionable,” Mr Roberts said.
Mr Roberts then suggested that former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham “perhaps” had made “the correct choice in selecting Greenslade over Dames (for the post of Commissioner) in light of the report received from Canada after their training.”
“This decision was made notwithstanding political partisan pressure and support for Dames which could not overcome the veracity of the Canada assessment,” Mr Roberts claimed.
Mr Dames quit the police force in early 2011 to take up a post at Baha Mar.
Last night, Mr Dames hit back at Mr Roberts’ rebuke.
“As usual, blood is on the streets and all Bradley Roberts is concerned about is politics,” Mr Dames said. “His voice is silent while young men slaughter each other, while women die clutching their Bibles under a hail of automatic gunfire.
“The Progressive Liberal Party has proven to be a dismal failure on crime. Women and men alike are afraid to traverse New Providence when the sun goes down.
“Bahamians say silent prayers before they enter their homes, hoping they won’t become victims of burglaries, or worse. New Providence has become less safe, and Roberts offers nothing. No comfort for the dead, no solace for the afraid.”
He said when he left the RBPF in 2011, the administration at the time did not “insert its political machinations” into law enforcement.
He added: “The PLP has since made a mockery of our force - rehiring those already put out to pasture, creating a secret agency under the guise of intelligence that operates outside the ambit of law, allowing political concerns to trump the integrity of service.
“When the Free National Movement returns to power, we will approach crime as the scourge that it is. We won’t take the anecdotal approach that the current administration has adopted, that crime is no longer a major concern.
“We will unshackle the Commissioner of Police and remove the undue and unwise political interference that has plagued our force.
“The Free National Movement will support the rank and file of the force as well as the senior management and we will bring clarity to whatever the National Intelligence Agency is, bringing it under the ambit of proper statute law, if it is indeed a tool that we can use,” Mr Dames said.
The country has recorded 101 murders for 2016, according to The Tribune’s records with the latest killing occurring in Grand Bahama yesterday when police found the lifeless body of a black male in a vehicle with injuries to the body.
Under the Progressive Liberal Party, there have been 559 murders in the Bahamas since the 2012 general election, far surpassing the “490 plus” under the last FNM administration, which was highlighted as part of the PLP’s campaign.
Last week, in his rebuke of the government’s effort on the crime fight, Mr Dames said that while the focus should be one that involves prevention and deterrence, enforcement and detection along with rehabilitation and integration, so far the war on crime has been fought in “silos”.
Mr Dames said he believes that the relationship between the police force and communities such as Mount Moriah need strengthening. He added that community policing needs to become the norm to bridge the divide between law enforcement and the community so that prevention and deterrence is the order of the day.
He also argued a constituency-wide crime watch initiative focusing on surveillance, patrol and mutual partnerships should be set up, where volunteers within the community can help in the fight against crime.